Archive for the ‘character’ Tag

In the Blogosphere: 3/14-3/25

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m making one of my resolutions to be better with these blogosphere posts.  *Well, I’m trying, but I’ve been reallllllly busy!* I’ve saved a lot of great stuff, though, and it’s all definitely worth a read.

HOW-TOs

Are you in query hell right now? Author Shawn Klomparens offers five easy steps to writing a query letter in this guest post on Writer Unboxed.

If you need more help in snagging an agent, check out Trans/plant/portation’s thoughts on the subject: maybe break some rules.

Okay, so what if that’s not the problem—what if you’re just Procrastination Patty (or Paul) these days? Here, Christine MacDonald gives six tips on getting back on track—applicable to any field, really.

So, now that you’ve signed with an agent and an editor snapped up your book in a major deal, it’s time to start planning your release party. W00t! Here’s author Jody Hedlund’s advice.

Pepper . . . I mean, Procrastination Patty. "Let's go shopping for flip-flops!"

CRAFT

We hear it all the time, but it’s important enough to revisit—all the time.  Here, Kidlit.com’s Mary Kole talks about specificity in setting.

And what’s a great setting without great characters?  TotallytheBomb.com’s Jamie Harrington says compelling characters come from what you, the author, know.

If you’re feeling a little sketchville on how to get to know your characters, fear not. The awesomesauce ladies of Adventures in Children’s Publishing have laid it all out for you in terms of Goal, Motivation, Conflict, and Tension.

BETAS, CPS & FRESH EYES—OH MY!

If you feel a case of writer-brain coming on, author Julie Ann Lindsey suggests you get a critique partner.  Lord knows mine have saved my sanity life on more than one occasion!

But how do you go about being a GOOD crit partner or beta reader?  YA Highway to the rescue!*

*Not just applicable to YA writers.

RESOURCES

TONS of my writing friends are passing their time and trying to increase their platforms by submitting short stories to anthologies.  But where does one go to find such markets? On Nick Daws‘ Writing Blog (Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog?), Nick himself lists seven of the top resources for that very purpose. Thanks, Nick!

This was originally intended for NaNoWriMo, back in November. However, as many writing friends seem to be getting over their winter freeze and jumping into new projects, here’s Write Anything’s Andrea Allison with ten Web sites to aid you through the plotting and planning process.

YOWZAS

Say it isn’t so!

Dude, these guys are so smart. Here’s Hank Green on lexical gaps—and the opposite of virginity.

Agree?  Here is American Book Reviews’ take on the 100 best first lines from novels.

Happy Friday, my loves!

Any good plans?

In the Blogosphere: 2/28-3/11

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m making one of my resolutions to be better with these blogosphere posts.  *Well, I’m trying, but I’ve been reallllllly busy!* I’ve saved a lot of great stuff, though, and it’s all definitely worth a read.

AGENT ADVICE

Here on Pub Rants, Kristen Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency shows you four easy steps for a “killer” opening—or, four things that will KILL your opening.

Does writing in the young adult genre appeal to you?  Or, are you already doing it but are unsure if you’re doing it well?  Mary Kole of Andrea Brown Lit pimps Regina L. Brooks’s book, Writing Great Books for Young Adults.

LET’S GET TECHNICAL

I’ve done a “Straight Dope” post on this, but don’t take it from me—take it from the Grammar Girl herself: Mignon Fogarty talks the capitalization of proper nouns.

Here, YA Highway’s Amanda Hannah helps you strengthen those sentences, simile-and-metaphor style.

Feeling tense?  Claire King is feeling first person present tense—and she makes a case for when and where (and why) it’s appropriate.

After checking out what Kristen Nelson says NOT to do in your beginning chapters, New York Times bestselling author (Across the Universe) Beth Revis spills on what TO do in order to hook readers in your first chapter in this post on the League of Extraordinary Writers.

Here, Gabriela Pereira of DIY MFA gives some concrete tips and exercises to create concrete characters.

CHUGGING ALONG

Are you a Type A writer?  In this post, author Jody Hedlund suggests that, if you devise and stick to a writing plan, you’re likely to be a more successful writer.

End-of-winter sluggishness contributing to your writer’s block?  Here, horror writer of awesome Zoe C. Courtman offers tips on how to sweat through the blockage!

ORGANIZATION TIPS & NO EXCUSES!

And while we’re on the subject of writing regularly and successfully, organization is key to clearing out distractions.  Incarnate author and ferret aficionado Jodi Meadows agrees in this post, where she shares her secret for keeping her inbox organized.

Where is all the time for writing?  It’s hard to come by, says D4EO agent Mandy Hubbard, but that’s no excuse.  She says you must find the time—and she does it with Debbie Ridpath Ohi cartoons!

I’m looking forward to seeing some writer friends at SCBWI this weekend—can’t wait to tell you all about it!

How about you?  Anything fun this weekend?

In the Blogosphere: 11/22-12/3

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m admittedly behind with my Blogosphere posts—I have about so many links saved, some dating all the way back to the summer (oh noes!)—but they are all still worth a look.  I’m getting there!

CREATING CHARACTERS

Heather Trese over at See Heather Write blogged some of her great notes from the SCBWI conference.  Here, she shares what she learned about creating characters from author Carolyn Mackler.

Over at Writer Unboxed, The Donald (Donald Maass) talks about how to write characters—ones who are on and off the page.

This fantabulicious post on creating memorable characters comes to us from author and D4EO agent Mandy Hubbard, in a guest post she did at the WriteOnCon blog.

What is Aladdin doing with Ariel! I'm telling Eric & Jasmine . . . oh wait.

RULES, OR A LACK THEREOF

Freelancer Kelly James-Enger talks about the 10% rule as applied to word count.

At There Are No Rules, Writer’s Digest and the University of Cincinnati’s Jane Friedman relays Dennis Hensley’s “12 things that matter to agents and editors when being pitched by writers.”

And while we’re on the subject of rules and percentages, Authoress Anonymous over at Miss Snark’s First Victim talks about the 25% rule, when it comes to plot.

TAKING THE BLAH OUT OF BLOGGING

Here, Paranormalcy author and popular blogger Kiersten White gives some blogging tips.

Here, author and speaker Jody Hedlund makes a case for blogging—and how it can help any kind of writer.

YOU’RE GROUNDED!

This post goes along with the one from the last “In the Blogosphere” post (about the “prime real estate” of your manuscript).  In it, the awesome Mary Kole talks about grounding the reader in all things your story—in every chapter.

Here, the Kole-ster does it again (that was supposed to be pronounced “KOLE-stur,” but, admittedly, looks like “molester.”  And kind of made me chuckle too much to fix.* Sorry, MK!) , answering questions about international writers and settings.

KID STUFF

Over at YA Highway, guest columnist Amna Mohdin says your taste in books is your own.

Here, Heather Trese gives some tips on writing for boys, of the middle-grade variety.

Mmm. Tasty

AGENT ADVICE

Tossing around the idea of submitting directly to publishers, sans agent?  YA author Hannah Moskowitz makes a case for why you want to have an agent.

Here is Greenhouse Literary agent Sarah Davies on how to find the best agent for your work.

Yes, I interview lit agents on the GLA blog, and I want to give props to this faboo interview with the aforementioned Sarah Davies (by Michelle Schusterman over at YA Highway).

JUST SO YOU KNOW . . .

In this post at Write Anything, Andrea Allison gives the straight dope on point of view, for all those who need a little refresher course.

Just can’t get away from it—voice!  Here, T.H. Mafi sheds some light on this somewhat intangible, but oh-so-important thing.

Have a newsletter? Sean D’Souza at Copyblogger tells you five reasons no one is reading it.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Pointers from the Pros: Author Jonathan Rabb on “Place as Character”

Pointers from the Pros” gives tips from authors and publishing industry professionals on everything from craft to querying to their experiences on the road to publication.  This post is by guest columnist and Write-Brainiac J.M. Lacey.

The August 2010 Scribblers’ Retreat Writers’ Conference in St. Simons Island, Ga., featured a stellar set of professional speakers.

Author Jonathan Rabb spoke on the Friday of the retreat.

Rabb is the author of the critically acclaimed historical novels Rosa and Shadow and Light, the first two books in a trilogy set in Europe between the wars. The final installment, The Second Son, will be published by Farrar Straus & Giroux early in 2011.

Prior to the trilogy, the Yale and Columbia graduate wrote The Overseer and The Book of Q and contributed essays and reviews to Opera News and the collection I Wish I’d Been There (Doubleday). He won the international Dashiell Hammett prize at the Spanish Semana Negra Festival in 2006 for Rosa, and he teaches creative writing at both NYU and SCAD.

Rabb

Here are some key points from Jonathan’s program on “Place as Character in Historical Fiction”:

On Research—

  • In historical fiction, you have to feel you “own” what you are writing. The author must have strict authority over that world. You only have about 20 pages to capture the reader’s certainty and confidence in your knowledge. Creating this kind of authority requires a lot of research.
  • Don’t trust the Internet for your research. Reach out to academics. Read their books and ask for their help.
  • Read novels written during the time period your novel is set in (if possible). Find material written in the voice of that time.
  • Once you’ve done the research, you must let it go. You are telling a story, and the story has to have its own life.
  • In historical fiction, everyone knows the end. The writers and readers share an intimacy by knowing more than the characters.

Place as Character—

  • Make Place a character. The only way characters can be compelling is if the space surrounding them is a character. Space defines the relationship with a character.
  • Inject something of the characters in the place. Have tension and conflict exist between the person and the space.
  • While we’re careful not to write a character doing something out of character, the same rule works for place. Don’t write something out of character for the place. Don’t invent a left turn for a real street if, in reality, you can’t make that left turn.

 

J.M. Lacey is a freelance writer and marketing and PR consultant. She is working on a place-as-character-driven novel. Visit her Web site and blog.

In the Blogosphere: 10/19-10/22

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m admittedly behind with my Blogosphere posts—I have over 100 links saved, dating all the way back to the summer (oh noes!)—but they are all still worth a look.  I’ll catch up eventually, right?

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

At yingle yangle, in one of Paulo Campos’s awesome 20 questions installments, he offers 20 great main-character-shaping questions for you to ask your hero.

On her blog, author Janet Fitch gives 10 writing tips that can help writers of any genre.

Looking for markets to sell your writing?  Susan Johnston over at the Urban Muse suggests 8 alternatives to magazines.

If you’re looking to start a writers’ group, here are 7 questions Colorado writer Molly Anderson-Childers says you should ask yourself in her guest post over at the Guide to Literary Agents blog.

Here, made of awesome up-and-coming YA author Michelle Hodkin gives the 4-1-1 on 3 of what she calls the best industry blogs you may not be reading.

ASK AN AGENT

Here on her blog, author and D4EO agent Mandy Hubbard lays out the process of getting a book published from “the end” to book in hand.

Over at Kidlit.com, Andrea Brown lit agent Mary Kole talks boy protagonists in young adult lit.

On Rants & Ramblings, agent Rachelle Gardner dishes on what the author is responsible for paying . . . for.  (Yeah, there was no great way to write that.  Or, there *was*, but my still-stuffy brain couldn’t find it.)

A subject that seems to be on everyone’s minds lately: Querying a series.  Here, Linn Prentis of Linn Prentis Literary weighs in.

TIME MANAGEMENT

Think you’re busy?  Author Jody Hedlund offers suggestions on how a busy mom can make time to write.

Here’s an interview Andrea Zimmerman over at Babble did with hella-awesome author mom Jennifer Weiner.  It’s more about parenting than it is about writing, but it’s a fun read and good for all the author moms out there.

WILL YOU MARRY . . . I MEAN, QUERY ME?

Here, another GLA guest poster, author Christine Fonseca, gives her take on writing nonfiction book proposals.

Over at Aspiring Mama, Pauline M. Campos likens the query process to finding love.

WHAT YOU NEED TO SUCCEED

Here at Write for Your Life, writer Iain Broome answers the question many folks have asked: Do you need a degree in writing to be a good writer?

On his blog, the Bacharach Blog, Samuel B. Bacharach talks about the three must-haves for proactive leadership for any successful artist.

CONTEST!!

And . . . don’t forget to enter my “Scare Me in 1,000 Words or Less” contest—ends Sunday, Oct. 24, at 11:59 PM EST.  Click here for the details.

Have a great weekend, everybody! :)

In the Blogosphere: 9/5-9/10

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m admittedly behind with my Blogosphere posts—I have about 50 links saved, dating all the way back to June (oh noes!)—but they are all still worth a look.  I’ll catch up eventually, right?

AGENTS’ TRICKS

Agents are inundated with stuff pretty much year-round, which means a lot of their time is dedicated to clearing out their inboxes and whittling down the slush pile alone!  So, when they give advice on how to get their attention, it’s best to listen up.

Here, Barbara Poelle of Irene Goodman Literary Agency offers six tips on things you can do to make September rock—and, surprisingly, they’re not “revise” or “don’t contact me”—she says you shouldn’t be afraid to use a little shame.

Here, Getting Past the Gatekeeper says it’s basically a no-no to revise and resubmit a manuscript to an agent (meaning, you’ve revised it since they requested pages and you’d like them to look at the new pages instead)—but it *can* be done well.

JUVY

Here, Editorial Anonymous answers the question of whether or not children’s books should take into account entertaining the adults who will be reading them to their kids.

Here, Tahereh makes me feel a lot better about being almost 29 and always going straight to the YA/teen section of the bookstore.  Solidarity! :)

BEDAZZLE YOUR MSS

I have been telling people this for *ages*, but everyone (especially my [former] students!) always thinks I’m nuts.  Or it’s like, “Yeah, yeah—you’re right,” and then you just know they didn’t do it.  Maybe you’ll listen to Heather Trese over at See Heather Write?  It’s really a MUST in terms of revision.

Here, Lydia Kang of The Word is My Oyster talks about and gives examples of character sheets—great tools to make your characters frawesome! <—word stolen from Elana Johnson, and I feel like I can’t use it without giving her a shoutout!  Is there such thing as plagiarism when it comes to Internet slang? She says “fabu,” I’ve noticed, but I have said “faboo” for years . . . (yes, I know hers makes more sense, but I can’t go back NOW!) . . . so I feel like that one’s fair game. :)

But I digress.

Let's bedazzle the crap out of something!

DOH!

Over at Fuel Your Writing, Suzannah Freeman outlines the five mistakes you make when writing a blog postSo, stop it!

Here, Shiver and Linger author Maggie Stiefvater gives you a dose of reality in terms of the publishing industry—and she does it using a ham sandwich.

Here, Kevin Purdy of Lifehacker talks about what caffeine actually does to your brain.  I’m choosing to ignore it. Right now, actually!

I found out about this site by reading this post by Jeff Hirsch over at the League of Extraordinary Writers, where he calls it “The Greatest and Most Horrible Website Ever.”  I mean, how can you not click on something when it’s billed like that, right?

Hirsch is referring to this site, TV Tropes, which lists—in crazy number and detail—just about every trope* (narrative, character, etc.) out there . . . and it breaks them down by categories, genres, etc.  It’s just nuts.  There really isn’t an original thought to be had anymore!  Beware: The site is totally addicting!

ONLINE IDENTITIES

Over on her blog, Kristen Lamb coughs up the single best way for authors to become a brand**—and it may be easier than you think.

And Jane Friedman discusses how to manage multiple (online) identities: avoid.

It can get complicated. Just ask Lana, Lois, and Chloe.

GET WRITING!

September is so back-to-school/let’s get down to business, and a lot of folks are talking about butt-in-chair-and-write time.

Here, Jody Hedlund talks about what to do when your writing routine is disrupted.

This is what I do.

Across the Universe author Beth Revis and my pal, The New Soul Trilogy author, Jodi Meadows—along with Authoress Anonymous (and probably some others) have been “word racing” on Twitter to get the words written.  Here are two great posts Revis did about their little project—what they’re doing and how it’s going.

We’ve got our own little GET WORDS WRITTEN thing going on over at The Write-Brained Network, and that’s WordWatchers.  It’s a little like NaNoWriMo, but you can tailor it to what fits in your schedule.  Details here.

Come play with us!

*Ahem—What is a “trope”?  In this sense, it’s a common or overused theme or device.

**Kyle, this is for you.

Pointers from the Pros: Anna DeStefano on the Character-Driven Story

Pointers from the Pros” gives tips from authors and publishing industry professionals on everything from craft to querying to their experiences on the road to publication.  This post is by guest columnist and SWO member J.M. Lacey.

I attended the August 2010 Scribblers’ Retreat Writers’ Conference in St. Simons Island, Ga., which featured a stellar set of professional speakers.

Anna DeStefano, a nationally bestselling and multiple award-winning author of classic romance for Harlequin and Silhouette and contemporary paranormal romantic suspense for Dorchester Publishing, spoke on Saturday.

Here are some key points from her program on “The Character-Driven Story”:

  • Character comes first, then the plot. Why? Readers have to connect with your characters through emotion. True storytellers will make the reader care about the character rather than the situations the character finds him/herself in.
  • Agents and publishers need to connect emotionally with your story. If they can’t connect with your characters—ergo your story—they will pass on your manuscript.

  • Really understand your character in the planning process. Story and character are the same thing. Every time an event changes in your story, the character has to change. Create experiences through your character for the reader instead of telling the reader what the character is actually doing.
  • In the planning stages, start with your Inciting Incident. This happens early, where the character is drawn into and committed to the story—whether it’s a problem, obstacle or tragedy.
  • Next, map out your Black Moment. For example, is the character still struggling with the same thing at the end? This is the emotional dynamic, the lesson.
  • Finally, create the backstory that will take your plot to a new level. Developing the character’s backstory and past will help you move forward in the creation process, but this doesn’t mean to reveal the character’s past to your reader. This will come out in your character’s experiences (see point three). Get the character from the inciting incident to the black moment.

  • Put some thought into why the characters in your story are doing what they are doing, before they do it. Understand your characters as well as, if not better than, your plot.
  • Figure out the emotional conflict from the beginning of the story. At mid-point, throw in more obstacles. At the end, the character needs to make a decision.

  • Make every scene count. In each scene, your character should have a motive, goal and conflict. Otherwise, you are wasting space. The conflict should escalate. Create tension to drive the reader to know more about the conflict.

DeStefano concluded by prompting the audience to think about the difficulty in changing our plot if a publisher asked us to do so. If we have developed strong characters that we know well, changing plot shouldn’t be an enormous challenge.

OVERALL TAKEAWAY

Character is plot, and plot is character.

J.M. Lacey is a freelance writer and marketing and PR consultant. She is working on a character-driven novel. Visit her Web site and blog.


In the Blogosphere: 8/9-8/13

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m admittedly behind with my Blogosphere posts—I have about 50 links saved, dating all the way back to May/June-ish (oh noes!)—but they are all still worth a look.  I’ll catch up eventually, right?

CONFERENCE GOODIES

You know how, when you go to some writers’ conferences, they give you a goodie bag?  Well, here are some links that are better than that!  Yes, they all are from kids’ lit conferences, but the skills are not just for kids’ lit writers.

Here, get soundbites from tons of industry professionals at the recent SCBWI L.A. conference—courtesy of the fabulous Michelle Schusterman of YA Highway.

The more I say "goodie bag," the more I want to giggle. #growup

In this post, over at Adventures in Children’s Publishing, the inimitable Martina Boone presents us with literary agent Elana Roth’s two cents about high concept (from the SCBWI ME/DE/WV conference).

Also, if you *weren’t* one of the thousands who attended this week’s free online writing conference, WriteOnCon, get out from under your rock and click here to check it out.  Most (if not all?) of the posts and vlogs are up there.  Such a fab event!

YA YA YA

Here *are* some things specific to YA writers.

This adorable post, by the equally-as-adorable Nathan-Bransford-repped Natalie Whipple teaches you how to Tweet and blog like a YA author.  Yes, I am guilty of all these things.

I’ve posted links on this subject before (mostly by Andrea Brown lit agent Mary Kole), but here is Deborah Halverson—The Editor’s—take on swearing in YA lit.

Also, over at his blogThe Book Deal—editor Alan Rinzler shares tips on writing YA from three Dystel & Goderich Literary Management agents, Stacey Glick, Michael Bourret, and Jim McCarthy.

ON KRAFT*

It’s all about the mission, baby.  The Storyfixer, Larry Brooks, discusses what makes a successful short story.

In this post at See Heather Write, freelancer/editor Heather Trese uses one of my favorite shows (How I Met Your Mother) to discuss character consistency.  Or lack thereof.

Why, yes - I *am* the cheesiest!

And while we’re on the subject of characters, Seth Frederiksen talks about how to make leading characters great at Fuel Your Writing.

As a little precursor to a “Pointers from the Pros” post I will be running soon, here’s The Donald (Donald Maass), over at Writer Unboxed, talking about creating tension.

*In case you missed my D.Maass/RWA10 post earlier this week, here it isPimping out her own blog? Why, yes, she is! (And talking about herself in third person, too—what a freak-a-zoid!)

I don't know what you hearrrrd about me . . . (What ever happened to 50 Cent anyway?)

HEHE

I heart these fellow Clevelanders and YA authors, Lisa and Laura RoeckerHere, they talk about how writing novels is a little like peeing your pants.

Oh—and this is why I love YA author John Green:

*See what I did there? :)

In the Blogosphere: 12/7-12/11

“In the Blogosphere” is a weekly series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week.  Most posts will be from that week, but if I find some “oldies but goodies,” I’ll throw those up here as well.

I never find as much time to read blogs as I want, but here are a few posts that struck me this week.

FOR MENTAL HEALTH

Here’s a handy-dandy little post to bookmark for those rainy days of rejection.  On Inkygirl.com, freelancer Debbie Ridpath Ohi lists famous/successful authors whose famous/successful works were rejected—maybe even more than your manuscript!

WRITER’S DIGESTers

Here, Dana Girard of Novelists Inc. talks literary agents and publishing with my “sort-of” boss, Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest (editor of Guide to Literary Agents, Screenwriter’s & Playwright’s Market, and Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript).  Chuck is gracious enough to give me the opportunities not only to interview agents for the GLA blog but also to write pieces for the 2011 editions of GLA & SPM, so I def wanted to give him props.

In this post on her blog, Jane Friedman, also of Writer’s Digest, discusses how getting professional headshots taken can affect your writing career.  It really struck me, as one who hasn’t quite gotten around to doing that yet…but she makes a good point, and it’s something that might not automatically occur to one.

Here, WD’s Friedman is at it again–only this time, she discusses a big mistake many writers make in story openings.

If you don’t get Writer’s Digest (what’s wrong with you??), here’s an article that ran in the October 2009 issue in which literary agent extraordinaire Donald Maass talks passion in writing.

RESOURCES

This is Plot to Perfection’s first post in their six-part series on character revision.  Although the series is geared toward NaNoWriMo survivors, it’s great info for anyone who wants to examine character in terms of: dialogue, mannerisms, physical attributes, attitudes, and personal growth.

As I reviewed the next URL for this next post on what YA literature needs more of (cultural diversity), I realized I bookmarked another post about the same video. I may have been out of it this week, but apparently, I’ve been consistent as well! Fellow aspiring author Simon C. Larter captured the essence of what I was thinking, but if you just want to watch the video on Kickstarter.com and learn how to support an independent publishing company actively seeking kids’ multicultural books, here you go.

Because I have a name people misspell, mispronounce, and misunderstand, I’ve long been interested in names.  I never really thought about pen names, but in this post, literary agent Nathan Bransford outlines the pros and cons of using a nom de plume.

**Incidentally, another “Ricki Schultz” (who IS. NOT. ME.) has published a poem online.  It’s somewhat difficult to find—especially now that my name comes up a bit more on the Internet because of this blog and my agent interviews—but I always worry someone is going to think I wrote the poem.  Which I didn’t.  Did I say that already? Perhaps I should create a pseudonym.  Any suggestions? ;)

WHAT DO YOU MEAN, he wasn't a real doctor??

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